Two Years

Two years ago today, I shared with the Facebook world via this blog that I have complex PTSD. Almost all of the feedback has been positive, and the only negative feedback I received was from a fellow therapist who thought I should not be so open about my struggles. I heartily disagree.

I blogged heavily for a year, and quit when I felt its purpose had been served. Even though it has been a while, I feel I have barely changed. My diagnosis is essentially permanent, so I have good days and bad days. Now, they are being managed by medication, and the result has been an answer to prayer. I still run. I still homeschool. My faith, however, is what has grown through the past two years. 

As my symptoms increased in severity, my faith had steadily declined. I felt God had forsaken me and was not answering my prayers for healing, a “perfect” marriage, or “easy” motherhood. I am not praying for healing anymore, and am working on accepting this as my norm. I am praying for God to strengthen me through the fire and for my trials to be used to turn my family towards God in a very real way. I pray for enough strength to not dissociate (which He has greatly answered with the help of medication), and I pray for enough wisdom and strength and kindness to serve my husband and lead my children to God.

As I have gradually become more open about my struggle, a group of Christian women have rallied around me to pray with me and love me. I have learned to accept support. I have learned that God strengthens us through the worst trials we face. Most importantly, I have learned that God comforts us with His unfailing love. God has given me the opportunity to share Christ in this struggle as well. It seems that as I have fought against God, He was still doing a work in my life and has still accomplished His purpose.

I have thought about shutting down this blog, but I still get hits and new comments. As long as my trials are an encouragement to others, I’ll continue to keep the blog running… Even if I do not have the time to post.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. -Romans 8:28

My Marathon To Mental Health

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I seem to have this notion that once I’ve completed this marathon, my PTSD symptoms will disappear (or be very manageable) and my marriage and parenting will be on track. It seems like quite an unrealistic notion, as running does not improve marriages or parenting, and while it is a healthy outlet, it will not magically remove my PTSD diagnosis. However great I feel after running, I still have to walk back in the door to a needy family; I will still have severe attachment issues; I will still be triggered by the little things.

If my problems will not magically disappear, what will be the benefits?

Faith: There is no way I will be able to complete this training or the race without God giving me energy and stamina. My daughter is nearly nine months old and is still waking several times a night, and my PTSD symptoms have wreaked havoc on my body. I also feel like my mind has been clearer and as a result, I’ve been able to do more devotions over the past month. I have not self-harmed since I’ve been running.

Fitness: Before last month, I had not run farther than 4.5 miles, and honestly I had no desire for more! That particular mud run (in 2012) was 95 degrees, I had taken 2 ibuprofen so I could run through a knee injury, and then I was given a 5-Hour Energy drink (and I rarely have caffeine!); by the middle of the race I was dizzy and I very nearly threw up at the top of the 20 foot wall! However, each time I go out now, it seems I am improving my distance and my pace. My biggest goals are 1- not be the last person to cross the finish line (or be in the top two-thirds), and 2- put a 26.2 sticker on the back of my car!

Nutrition: It is very hard to run any distance when you’ve eaten a giant buffalo chicken cheesesteak or an enormous burrito (with queso) from Moe’s. My husband and I are slowly working to improve our diets so that our bodies can manage our respective training programs (because my husband is also doing the marathon).

Marriage: My husband and I finally have something in common! We have something to talk about, besides the kids, that we both care about equally. That’s big! We’ve been married nearly five years and my conversation falls short on the topic of sports, much like his conversation falls short with psychology.

All of the above will contribute to improving my mental health; I am already seeing the mental benefits of exercise and am looking forward to seeing where I’ll be in September. If I can conquer a marathon, I feel conquering my past will be cake… or I’ll be too distracted to be bothered by it! While I know this endeavor will not magically remove my PTSD diagnosis, it is a big step towards healing (well, 26.2 miles worth of steps, plus 18 weeks of training, towards healing!).

Photo credit: http://www.canstockphoto.com/vector-clipart/marathon.html

A Doable Schedule

ScheduleMy new therapist suggested I do my best to follow a consistent schedule and thought that was the very next step for me, besides seeing a psychiatrist. I shared that I am less capable of getting things accomplished on bad days, and that my bad days usually revolve around getting less sleep (hence the bad day has a scheduled nap for me!). Therefore, I made three schedules to go by that have doable goals for each level of emotion. As I have time, I will put coping skills into the various groupings, but I thought these overall categories were good enough to start with. I also started to make a schedule that has a column for each person in the family (namely, what I need to be doing for each of them during each time frame), and that’s what I’ll probably go by, but here is my first attempt at ordered living 🙂

We’ll see how it goes. I much prefer making pretty charts and schedules than actually going by them. This chart is far from being perfected! Excel is so fun 🙂

Essential Oils? Vitamin Deficiency? – PTSD

Herbal Essence Dropper

Does anybody have any specific knowledge or experience regarding the use of essential oils, particularly to treat PTSD symptoms? I have been very curious about essential oils since I read about a friend whose son with autism was able to decrease his levels of risperdal due to using essential oils. For some reason, I always seem to be wary of homeopathic remedies, but if it has helped anyone’s PTSD symptoms, I am willing to try. I have a friend who has the following oils to help with anxiety, and she was going to let me try them: Lavender, Balance, Serenity, and Breathe.

Also, I know nothing about vitamins, but am wondering if PTSD symptoms (namely dizziness and anxiety) are ever caused by a certain vitamin deficiency or another physical issue. Has anyone ever gone for bloodwork regarding PTSD or gone on a certain vitamin and had their PTSD symptoms decrease? I know hypoglycemia sometimes gets me because I under eat when I’m stressed. I know I have been dizzy all day and just took a prenatal vitamin I had left over from MY SON! (with my other two pregnancies, I jumped onto the gummy prenatal vitamins bandwagon and so these swallow pills have been in my cupboard for 4.5 years!) and within 30 minutes my dizziness went away.

I don’t know, what do you think?

Photo credit: http://essentialjoy.lorig.me/category/essential-oils/page/2/

Quote On Suffering

Recovering from suffering is not like recovering from a disease. Many people don’t come out healed; they come out different.

I came across this quote by NYT columnist David Brooks and I felt it was important to share today.

 

Brave Heart Award

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Sunshine, at http://avictimsjournal.wordpress.com/, nominated me for the Brave Heart Award. This is a very insightful and well-written blog about a woman who is recovering from trauma, and I love reading her blog. Thank you, Sunshine, for this nomination! I am honored 🙂

The Brave Heart Mission Statement

To encourage all those whom have been abused to share their hope with others so that they will no longer be a victim but a survivor.

What is The Brave Heart Award?  The Brave Heart Award is for survivors of abuse and for those whom encourage healing.

Stand Strong You Are Not Alone

I call you a survivor, because that is what you are. There are days when you don’t feel like a survivor and there are days when the memories trigger your past and it feels like you are loosing the fight – but you are not. Take the past and heal with it. You are strong. I want you to know that the abuse was not your fault. It does not matter what age it happened. You did not deserve it, you did not cause it, and you did not bring it on yourself. You own no shame, guilt, or remorse. In your life, you have faced many demons but look around you and you will see there is hope, and there is beauty. You are beautiful, You are loved, there is hope. You deserve to be loved and treated with respect. You deserve peace and joy in your life. Don’t settle for anything less than that. God has plans for you. Your future does not have to be dictated by your past.

Each step you take you are not alone.

Stand Strong.

Q&A

1.Tell us a little bit about your blog. Who designed it? I designed it… The background photo was taken on my wedding day, and it’s my veil with grass and trees in the background
2. What is the title and description of your blog? Life and PTSD. It’s a blog about my journey to heal from PTSD, plus posts about my family and career as a therapist.
3. Who is your intended audience? Anyone who wants to learn more about PTSD and/or not feel alone in their journey
4. How did you come up with the title of your blog? I wanted “PTSD” in the title so I’d get more PTSD hits, but I wanted my title to be more than that. Though it is a consuming diagnosis, I am more than that. I want to share my life with the blogging world, too.
5. Give us an interesting fun fact about your blog. Initially, I published my blog with my name and a photo of myself. When I realized how many hits it was getting, I went anonymous for two reasons: panic that so many strangers would know what I’m going through; and I didn’t want my clients to come across it because it would affect the therapeutic relationship.
6. What other blogs do you own and what makes them alike? I have one other blog that I kinda keep up with. I panicked and deleted everything off it though, and barely write on it anymore. It is not educational or poetic or well-planned… it is me journaling through my spirals. I’m not going to share it publicly. If you are curious for the URL, you may email me.
7. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies? I don’t really consider anything I do to be unique, but I enjoy photography, writing, and blogging.
8. How can we contact you or find out more about your blog? You may contact me and find out more about my blog on the “about” section
9. What can we expect from you in the future? psychoeducational posts, autobiographical posts, poems, and my thoughts on the various aspects of my life.
10. What can readers who enjoy your blog do to help make your blog more successful? Just by reading and “liking” my blog, I am very encouraged and put forth more effort into my writing and advertising.
11. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers/bloggers? For those who struggle with PTSD or another mental illness, I strongly urge you to seek therapy in order to process your traumas. I also encourage you to get out of bed everyday and try your hardest. Make small, do-able goals. Remember that the waves of the spirals always calm, just strap your feet down and hold on.
12. Before you go, could you share a snippet from your blog?

The Little Girl And The Therapist

Down, down I descend into the darkness

The sound pierces my ears

Finally, I find her in the corner of a cold room

Knees to her chest, hands over her ears

She is screaming

“Hold her,” I vaguely hear someone say

I can barely shake my head

I hear the voice again. “It’s your choice.”

I am frozen as I watch her in the corner

My desire is to join her; I want to scream louder

She does not deserve this but I do it anyway

I force myself to sit on the cement floor

Cinder blocks behind me

Why is she down here?  I wonder

With no hesitation, she immediately curls into my lap

I try not to notice what she is wearing

Instead, I wrap her in a blanket and hold her tight

I kiss her forehead and she falls asleep.

And then I am crying

Restrained tears, but I am not holding her

I am in my therapist’s office

The floors are not cement; they are polished wood

There is furniture, white and black

Credentials hanging on the wall

I dare not look up but if I did, I’d see a caring face

I stare at the sand tray table instead

When the tears are over, the body memories calm

I uncurl my legs and place them on the wooden floor

My arms relax and I force myself to breathe

The girl is asleep

She will not hurt me tonight.

My 12 Nominees

http://morningpageswriter.wordpress.com/

http://afraidtotell.wordpress.com/

http://66amazon.wordpress.com/

http://lisapinney.wordpress.com/

http://secretangelps911.wordpress.com/

http://cptsd2013.wordpress.com/

http://elliethompson.wordpress.com/

http://ptsdfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com/

http://findinghopessunshine.wordpress.com/

http://brokebutbeingrepaired.wordpress.com/

http://beatingtrauma.com/

http://thepowerofsilenceblog.wordpress.com/

To my nominees, here are the instructions for accepting the award;

Rules for accepting the Award

1. Thank the person whom nominated you.

2. Post a comment on your nominees blog (with a link back to your Brave Heart Award Results), notifying them that they have been nominated for The Brave Heart Award with the Quote below.

Stand Strong You Are Not Alone

I call you a survivor, because that is what you are. There are days when you don’t feel like a survivor and there are days when the memories trigger your past and it feels like you are losing the fight – but you are not. Take the past and heal with it. You are strong. I want you to know that the abuse was not your fault. It does not matter what age it happened. You did not deserve it, you did not cause it, and you did not bring it on yourself. You own no shame, guilt, or remorse. In your life, you have faced many demons but look around you and you will see there is hope, and there is beauty. You are beautiful, You are loved, there is hope. You deserve to be loved and treated with respect. You deserve peace and joy in your life. Don’t settle for anything less than that. God has plans for you. Your future does not have to be dictated by your past.

Each step you take you are not alone.

Stand Strong.

3. Take the 12 question interview yourself and share your answers on your blog.

4. Nominate 12 blogs.
5. Share the 12 question interview with your nominees to answer.
6. Share your 12 nominees website/blog links on your blog page.
7. You can not nominate a blog if they have already received the Brave Heart Award.

12 Questions Asked:

1.Tell us a little bit about your blog. Who designed it?
2. What is the title and description of your blog?
3. Who is your intended audience?
4. How did you come up with the title of your blog?
5. Give us an interesting fun fact about your blog.
6. What other blogs do you own and what makes them alike?
7. Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
8. How can we contact you or find out more about your blog?
9. What can we expect from you in the future?
10. What can readers who enjoy your blog do to help make your blog more successful?
11. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers/bloggers?
12. Before you go, could you share a snippet from your blog?

Liebster Awards!

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I was nominated for the Liebster Award twice in the past few days, so instead of writing two separate posts, I’m going to combine them. Ellie Sofia at http://elliethompson.wordpress.com/ and ptsdfrozen at http://ptsdfromtheinsideout.wordpress.com/ nominated me. I am so blessed to be Ellie’s blogging friend; her writing is powerful, her story is painfully and beautifully sincere, and she has a heart of gold. Thank you, Ellie!! I am also immensely enjoying getting to know ptsdfrozen because I feel like I very much connect with this woman (including her screenname!). Thank you, ladies!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂
These awards often feel more like chain letters than awards. These are hard questions for me to answer, and the only reason I am doing this is because I want to recognize some of my favorite blogs for their posts and support. Through these blogs (and many others I am following), I feel slightly more normalized for the trials I am going through.
I Was Given These Questions
1.  Who do you write for? I write to give myself a voice and an outlet.
2. What type of blogs do you like?  I enjoy reading blogs written by people who are working hard to heal from mental illness, as well as people who are sweetly encouraging in their walk with Jesus.
3.  What do you wish the world understood about PTSD?
A friend just asked me what PTSD was like. I answered something like, “It’s like I’m completely fine one second and then the next second I’m spiraling into a deep hole because of a stupid trigger. Then I’m fine, and then I’m triggered and I’m dizzy for days, I can’t breathe, and I am caught in visual, auditory, and body flashbacks of my past. It is completely unpredictable and leaves immense devastation in its wake. Sometimes I have to pull over while driving because I can’t trust that I won’t make an impulsive decision in the midst of the most random and uncalled for spiral.”
4.  What would you say is the biggest passion in your life? I looked up “passion” to help me answer this question. “Strong and uncontrollable emotion.” Right now I have many strong and uncontrollable emotions but none are the result of passion. If I strip down every goal, behavior, and task, my underlying desire is to teach my children to trust in Jesus.
5.  What are you most proud of? My children.
6.  What activity makes you feel like yourself the most? Anything related to my job. During session, I am calm and easy to converse with. I feel normal.
7.  If you could have a dinner party with 10 famous figures dead or alive, who would they be? I am changing this, because I couldn’t care less about famous people. I would choose to have a dinner party with finallyspeakingmytruth, Ellie Sofia, ptsdfrozen, 66amazon, pinneyl, teddylee01, mandy, Mariann Martland, ideationsms, and afraidtotell (amongst others, but these are the first that popped into my head)
8.  If you could choose a different profession for this life what would it  be? I want to be: a professor, therapist, and an author. I am already a therapist; in the future, I may still earn my PhD and become a professor; and I have written one book and am working on another, so I still may be published at some point! I don’t want to change professions, I just want to add to my career!
9.  Describe your personality in 3 words. labile, caring, introspective
10.  Name a person who has made a significant impact on your life. Truly, my husband. We constantly battle over both stupid and serious things, but at the end of the day we are still holding hands. We still touch feet while we sleep (because any other cuddling may or may not send me into a spiral). We still kiss each other goodbye. We still say we love each other. We still say goodnight. We still feel safe knowing the other person is in the other room, even if we are in a monumental argument over making our own toothpaste vs. buying toothpaste.
~
1.What is the best thing about you?  My empathy
2.What time of day do you blog?
Whenever I can catch a chance with my busy life. Usually first thing in the morning or right before I go to bed.
3.How many revisions does it take before you finally publish?
8-ish (this one is 14 and counting because it’s taking so long to write this post!)
4.Who is/was the most influential person in your life?
See above
5.In one word describe yourself.
Labile
6.Where do you see yourself one year from now?
A year closer to feeling whole and calm.
7.What is your favourite social media?
WordPress
8.What type of blogs do you follow?
Those who struggle with PTSD and people with a strong faith in Jesus. I need connection to both worlds.
9.What is the motivating factor for you to blog?
I NEED an outlet for this crap inside my head
10.How would you describe your blog content to someone who has not read it.
See above PTSD question
11.What have you learned about yourself from blogging?
I have realized that I felt so desperately alone in my symptoms before. I did not know a part of me needed this community of people who struggle with the same things I do.
10 Random Facts About Myself
I do not have the energy for this…
10 Questions For My Nominees
Pick any 10 questions above
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Nominees
Feel free to use either of the graphics for your post
She was the first person to follow my blog and has become an amazing friend and support. Her blog is full of beautiful insights, amazing writing, and thoughtful words.
I very much enjoy reading his blog! It seems rare to have a male perspective in the mental health world, and he’s a great writer.
Beautiful art therapy!
A favorite because her posts are very uplifting

http://discussingdissociation.com/

http://singledadventures.com/

http://lisapinney.wordpress.com/This is quickly becoming a favorite because she writes about her recovery from trauma as well as her relationship with Jesus. I greatly  benefit from her encouraging words and her posts.

http://beautyfromtheashes613.wordpress.com/

http://cherished79.wordpress.com/

http://ihurtericabelle.wordpress.com/

liebster-award2

The Official Rules Of The Liebster Award 

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:

1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. 

3. answer 10 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

4. provide 10 random facts about yourself.

5. nominate up to 10 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers.

6. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. list these rules in your post . Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it

I Challenge Thee….

To a Pi memorization contest!!!! I challenge you to report back at the end of the day, the following:

-Number of digits memorized

-Mood at the beginning of the day (including 1-10 scale)

-Mood at the end of the day (including 1-10 scale)

Official hypothesis: If a person is spiraling and chooses to memorize Pi, then the person’s mood will improve by at least 2 points.

Why? You’re engaging a different part of your brain that is not connected with emotion.

Ready, and…. GO!

greek alphabet

Photo courtesy of my son’s bedroom 🙂

Happily (For Now) Not Featured On Freshly Pressed

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Stella, at http://finallyspeakingmytruth.com/, has become a very dear friend and has graciously nominated me for the Not Featured On Freshly Pressed Award.

I am very new to the blogging world and have only been to the Freshly Pressed page maybe three times. I had no idea there was an award associated with it, and I had no idea there was an award for those who were not associated with it! With the research (ie. Google “Freshly Pressed Award”) I have done in light of this nomination, I have found that the posts featured on this page get upwards of 30,000 viewers. That would be a lot of people reading about my diagnosis, poor coping skills, and shame! While my goal is to increase mental health awareness, I’m not sure I am ready to expose my vulnerability to that many people. I had a full-blown meltdown the day I had 256 views!

Maybe one day I’ll be ready for that many views, but today I am content with what I currently receive. Here are the blogs I’d like to nominate for this award. I read every word of these blogs and appreciate all they have to say about their journey towards healing.

Afraid To Tell – http://afraidtotell.wordpress.com/ (I encourage you to read The Shadows)

Erica Belle – http://ihurtericabelle.wordpress.com/

Ellie Sophia – http://elliethompson.wordpress.com/

RULES FOR NOMINEES

1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the “The I’m NOT Featured On Freshly Pressed Award”.

2. Write a blog post and tell us the blog(s) you have chosen- there are no minimum or maximum number of blogs required- and ‘present’ the blog(s) with their award.

3. Include in your blog post a paragraph about why you’d like to be on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed OR a paragraph on why you couldn’t care less about Freshly Pressed. Up to you

4. Let the blog(s) that you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the instructions with them- (please don’t alter the instructions or the badge!)

5. Come over and say hello to the originator of the “The I’m NOT Featured On Freshly Pressed Award” via this link:http://DonCharisma.org/2014/01/01/the-im-not-featured-on-freshly-pressed-award

6. And as a winner of the award- please add a link back to the blog that presented you with this award, and then PROUDLY display the award on your blog.

7. If you ever do get officially “Freshly Pressed” then take down this award badge and display the official “Freshly Pressed” badge instead.